Welcome to DAD's 2018 Annual Report

Darlington Association on Disability is an organisation led by disabled people, which exists to promote independence and choice. DAD supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues affecting disabled people both locally and nationally.

Chair’s report to members

Welfare reforms continue to generate extremely difficult and worrying times for disabled people and carers. As a leading user led disability organisation, Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) recognises the importance of disabled people being involved in the decisions that will affect them. DAD has been extremely active in supporting and encouraging disabled people to be involved in consultation both locally and nationally, as well as keeping people well informed of the many changes which could impact on their lives.

These are also worrying times for disability organisations like DAD with demands on services increasing as funding to deliver these services decreases. The Trustees and Management of DAD are committed to continue to support disabled people and carers in as many ways as it can.

We are constantly being pressed to do more for less in the contracts we deliver which can only have a negative impact on those services and their recipients. Contracts with full cost recovery are a thing of the past and it is therefore very difficult to meet the costs of the minimum wage and maintain salary levels at the appropriate rate for the role. This is the case across the voluntary sector and DAD is no exception. However, with their commitment and hard work management, employees and volunteers have continued to not only deliver DAD's services to a high standard but with their loyalty and dedication, they have continued to support disabled people by going above and beyond as the demand on our services have grown. For this I am immensely grateful and offer them all my heartfelt thanks.

The constant struggle to secure core funding is ever present and it is this funding which is vital if DAD is to continue to take a leading role in changing negative attitudes that prevent disabled people participating fully as equal citizens. Funding sources are becoming more and more competitive and harder to come by with fewer funders in a position to meet the demand. I am extremely grateful to all our financial supporters and offer them our warmest thanks. I also give a special thank you to all the individuals who organise fundraising events, make or donate prizes and take part in sponsored challenges. They bring in vitally needed funds and their generosity and devotion to DAD is immensely appreciated.

I am tremendously grateful to Chief Executive Lauren Robinson and her Senior Manager Team Tracy Roberts and Rosemary Berks for doing an outstanding job under testing circumstances. I thank them for their loyalty, dedication and professionalism and for going that extra mile to ensure DAD remains an organisation that is the envy of many areas.

I would like to acknowledge the role played by my fellow trustees / directors and offer them my sincere thanks for their time and hard work that often goes unseen by most.

I am most grateful for their skills and dedication in their support of senior management.

Gordon Pybus, Chairman

Structure, Governance and Management

Governing document

The Charity is controlled by its governing document, a deed of trust, and constitutes a limited company, limited by guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006.

DAD has been a registered charity since 1986. In June 2008 Members agreed to transfer the assets and liabilities of the unincorporated Charity to a Company Limited by Guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006, and a Registered Charity.

As a user led organisation DAD consulted and involved members, people who use our services, staff and volunteers in developing the Memorandum and Articles that now govern the organisation and this is the tenth report of the Company. The charity is controlled by its governing document that ensures the organisation is user led, requiring a minimum of 75% of Trustees to be disabled people.

The current legal structure provides a strong basis to secure tenders for services and ensure that disabled people and carers can govern, develop and run the services they identify are needed to ensure independence, choice and control.

Recruitment and appointment of new trustees

The Trustees are appointed on a three-year rotation to govern the business of the association. Members at the Annual General Meeting approve the appointment of Trustees as Directors of the Company. The general membership includes individual disabled people and carers, representatives from local groups and the local authority. The Chairperson or the Vice Chairperson and either the Secretary or Honorary Treasurer must be a disabled person. The Memorandum and Articles allows for up to nine Trustees.

Induction and training of new trustees

Trustees, as Directors of the Company, regularly discuss their responsibilities as Company Directors and understand them. As new Directors are recruited they receive an induction to the organisation, including a copy of the Charities Commission guide for Trustees, information on charity accounting and the organisation's policies and procedures. All Trustees undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Trustees undertake additional training as appropriate throughout the year including Health and Safety and Safeguarding training.

Organisational structure

The Trustees met 6 times during the period of this report and various sub committees including policy, finance and health and safety, met between those meetings and reported to the Trustees.

To ensure the Association has the capacity to develop and address the many changes the organisation faces, operational responsibility is delegated to a Senior Management Team led by a full time Chief Executive. This team oversees the day to day running of the organisation including 63 staff which includes 5 governance, 5 project organisers and 53 support staff together with an average of 60 active volunteers.

Risk management

The Trustees have examined the major strategic, business and operational risks facing the organisation and systems have been established to monitor and review these risks. Trustees purchase an external advisory and insurance service to ensure Health and Safety and Personnel risks are minimised. DAD also holds the NHS Better Health at Work Silver Award to ensure support for promoting good health of staff and volunteers.

Finance systems and reporting are also regularly reviewed to ensure compliance. Specialist advice is sought from DAD's accountants when required. Reports identifying risks are also considered by Trustees at their meetings throughout the year.

A full review of insurance requirements is conducted regularly and the necessary cover purchased with support from a specialist broker.

Objectives and aims

a) to relieve the needs of disabled people and carers, for the public benefit, resident but not limited to, Darlington and the surrounding areas. In particular, but not exclusively by the promotion of equality, diversity and independence through the provision of services, support, information and training; and

b) to direct, promote and support the efficient working of charitable organisations, voluntary bodies and statutory bodies in their work to relieve disability ("the Objects").

Significant activities

Darlington Association on Disability (DAD) was established in 1986 as a voluntary and charitable organisation led by disabled people. It exists to promote independence and choice of disabled people and supports disabled people and carers through the provision of services, support and information and by tackling issues affecting disabled people locally and nationally. DAD promotes the Social Model of Disability and as part of that ethos is actively involved in promoting disability equality and awareness raising. As an organisation, DAD endeavours to ensure that its services are responsive and not prescriptive.

DAD has five strategic aims that it works to achieve;

  • Promote the Social Model of Disability.
  • Ensure disabled people and carers are involved in all its work.
  • Provide high quality services to promote independence and choice.
  • Improve access to services, consultation and involvement for sensory impaired people, younger people and people from minority ethnic groups.
  • Ensure that DAD has a secure, sustainable and independent future.

These aims are met in two ways:

Firstly, DAD acts with disability groups, individual disabled people and carers to jointly tackle issues affecting them in Darlington and the surrounding area and to enable involvement and consultation with service providers, voluntary, public and private sector. Secondly, DAD develops and delivers services with direct involvement of disabled people and carers. DAD is in contact with over 3,000 disabled people, carers, organisations and individual supporters locally.

All of the organisation's work relies on volunteers who receive ongoing support and training to ensure that they can make the most of their volunteering role, developing new skills and self-confidence. Many disabled people act as role models and mentors for other disabled people to volunteer. Many young people volunteer to support the children and young people's service.

Members play a vital role in the organisation ensuring that DAD remains user led and a recruitment drive launched as part of the 30th Anniversary celebrations has led to an increase of 32.5% in membership, 166 members are now registered. A grant received from the Big Lottery Celebrate programme enabled us to hold a series of events to raise awareness of the organisation's achievements and enable disabled people and carers to come together.

DAD recruited 30 new volunteers to support the essential work towards breaking down barriers and at March 2018 DAD had 36 regular active volunteers and 24 volunteers supporting DAD's children's and young people's project.

During the year, DAD has continued to manage and co-ordinate a wide range of services and support for disabled people and carers regardless of age or impairment. This report outlines a summary of the work and key achievements;

Access Interest Group

The Group works with organisations and businesses across Darlington promoting equality. Disabled people have worked with the Local Authority to ensure good access to facilities and services including the refurbishment of the local Theatre, now known as The Hippodrome. Many hours of voluntary work were dedicated to ensure the new facilities are as accessible as possible for theatre goers and disabled actors. Work has been done to ensure that accessible taxis meet the requirements of the new guidance for carrying a 'reference' wheelchair. If not, they are no longer registered with licencing as wheelchair accessible. All planning applications to Darlington Council are monitored and formal comments are made on any disability issues identified.

Involvement with Durham & Darlington Police and the Police and Crime and Victims Commissioner (PCVC) has continued to raise the issues around recognition of Hate Crime and support for victims. This has led to continued investment in the development of a Hate Crime Advocacy Service by the PCVC to support people, across all the equality strands, who face Hate Crime.


DAD has a contract to deliver general statutory Advocacy, including Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA), Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA), Relevant Persons Representatives (RPR) and Care Act advocacy for Darlington and Hartlepool Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Group as well as many Local Authorities making spot purchases. Over 470 new referrals were received for the advocacy service and 5,700 advocacy hours were provided to support people.

The Hate Crime Advocacy Service development is also based with the team to ensure high quality advocacy is delivered by trained and experienced advocates. The partnership supported 37 people facing Hate Crimes with 16 referrals classed as Disability Hate Crime.

Advocates have received ongoing training to deliver the requirements of the Care Act, to increase our capacity to deliver IMCA and to ensure advocates have a thorough understanding of the Court of Protection procedures. The issues that people require support with are wide and varied from housing, issues on discharge from hospital, ongoing care and safety, legal processes and tribunals.

Carers Support

DAD has continued to actively support carers in a number of ways including the provision of short breaks, funded by the Better Care Fund and the Respite Association. Parent carers receive breaks using DASH playschemes. The Independent Living Hub supported 26 people to attend and be well supported to try new activities so that the disabled person and carer can have a break from each other.

Breaks for carers improve their health and wellbeing and enhance dignity and respect by providing carers with an improved service, and affording them recognition for their vital role. Families benefitted by 105 subsidised places offered to 26 children and young people on the DASH schemes.

Children and Young Peoples Service (ChYPS)

ChYPS delivers DASH playschemes, facilitates the Parents Forum to identify and influence issues of importance for them and their children, supports Young Leaders to have a voice on issues affecting young disabled people and provides Independent Supporters to provide advice and information to children, young people and families who have a right to an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Over 130 children and young people, aged 3 - 18, are registered to attend play and leisure activities during school holidays with 85 attending throughout the year. A successful Partnership bid by Tees Valley YMCA and DAD to the Big Lottery Funded Youth Investment Programme has enabled us to continue to deliver 96 play and leisure sessions, attended regularly by up to 21 young people, including increasing our Young Leaders sessions from fortnightly to weekly. There are plans to develop a third after school session. They were supported by a team of trained and qualified staff and 24 volunteers to have equal access to opportunities.

Independent Support dealt with 68 referrals for support for Education Health and Care plans. Sadly this service ended in June 2018 as national changes have led to Local Authorities being funded to take on this role.

The Independent Living Hub

The Independent Living Hub supports disabled people to develop new skills, have access to education, employment, leisure and social activities. Mentoring for Independence also supports young disabled people to develop independent living skills.

On average 48 people per week access the Hub where they receive support to access activities, courses or support to be independent in the community. A wide range of activities took place including; information sessions from local groups such as The Fire Service, Police and Alzheimer's Society; other activities including safe use of the internet, Cyber Bullying sessions and Hate Crime Awareness. Peer Support is ongoing and is the foundation of all activities at the Hub. Health and Wellbeing activities such as Wiggle & Giggle, Healthy Eating Sessions, Art Therapy and Mindfulness were attended by 69 people funded through County Durham Community Foundation.

Direct Payments Support Service

This service enables people to manage a payment from Social Services for their assessed needs, and to have choice and control over how their needs are met, in order to lead independent lives. This includes the provision of managed accounts.

The Middlesbrough service has received 55 new referrals and had contact with and supported, on average 40 employers per month. 23 people received recruitment support for Personal Assistants. The Darlington service supported on average 295 people, of which 215 were supported who use their direct payment to employ Personal Assistants and a further 136 people received support with their Managed Account. Support includes the provision of payroll including auto enrolment for pensions, employer support, recruitment and information. Peer support groups were held in Darlington and Middlesbrough. The service has also increased support for people with Personal Health budgets.

Skills for Care

Another successful bid for funding enabled us to provide 244 training sessions for 24 employers and their Personal Assistants across Darlington, County Durham and Middlesbrough. Training options included First Aid, Manual Handling, Disability Equality and Mental Capacity Act. This is an opportunity only available to Disabled Peoples Organisations and a further, successful application, has been made to continue this valuable work.

Information Provision

Information Provision continues to be delivered from across the organisation following the loss of the dedicated funding for the service. DAD still aims to be the first point of contact for disabled people and carers. We have dealt with over 120 enquiries mainly regarding changes to peoples' social care packages, equipment, housing, welfare rights and the increased charges for services following the implementation of the Darlington Council medium term financial plan to reduce costs. At our Stakeholder meetings members continue to raise issues of welfare rights and housing and ask DAD to provide more support in these areas.

Self Advocacy

DAD continued to facilitate groups such as Young Leaders, People's Parliament and Parent Forum, all of which are crucial to ensure people have a voice, opportunities for self-advocacy and co-production. Young Leaders attended the first Making Participation Work, Children and Young People's Conference in Birmingham, hosted by Council for Disabled Children and KIDS, aimed at bringing disabled children and young people from across the country together to share their experiences of participation and find out more about how they can have their voices heard and their right to have a say. Four Young Leaders attended as delegates and two others attended to support the delivery of workshops alongside Council for Disabled Children and Alliance for Inclusive Education.

Young Leaders also gave feedback to the local Safeguarding board on their new website. One Young Leader successfully applied to become a member of the Council for Disabled Children advisory group.

People's Parliament has also been involved in delivering the Re-Thinking Advocacy Project, funded by Inclusion North, to look at new models of advocacy. This work has now been presented to commissioners regionally and Transforming Care Boards to impress upon them the importance of self advocacy. The Care Quality Commission visited and gathered some views about their easy read material. Peer support drop ins were held monthly where people discussed aspirations, social media, hobbies, labels people can be given, hospital passports, volunteer work and current issues in people's lives.

Parent Forum has been very proactive ensuring parents have a voice and encourage co-production of support to parents, children and young people through the development of the Local Authority Children and Young People's plan.

Accessible Taxi Service

The Taxi Service has continued to provide a much needed service, despite many challenges, providing almost 4,000 journeys, 60% were customers who required wheelchair access. Customers greatly appreciate the high level of customer service provided.

Voluntary Sector Brokerage

The partnership with Age UK Darlington and Darlington MIND was extended to include the 700 Club and to deliver the Support for Wellbeing Social Prescribing 'test bed' project across Darlington, taking referrals from health professionals in GP surgeries and social care staff. The project was funded by the Local Authority from Better Care Funds. This built onto the initial partnership work involved in the Multi-Disciplinary Team pilot and extended the reach of the brokers to anyone with a long term health condition.

Public benefit

The Charity's aims and achievements are set out within this report. The activities set out in this report have been undertaken to further the Charity's charitable purposes for the public benefit. The Trustees have complied with the duty under Section 4 of the Charities Act 2011 to have due regard to public benefit guidance published by the Charity Commission and the Trustees have paid due regard to this guidance in deciding what activities the Charity should undertake.

DAD continued to monitor, evaluate and develop all of DAD's projects to ensure that each is providing the best possible service and is supporting disabled people and carers to increase opportunities and choice.

In order to try to address a very difficult time of public sector cuts, changing funding streams, multiple negative impacts on disabled people and carers from local and national changes; DAD Trustees, staff and members worked hard to promote the organisation and to ensure awareness is raised across the community that DAD supports disabled people, carers and their families, children of all ages, young people and older people, regardless of impairment.

Review of financial activities and affairs

The financial affairs of the Association were managed by a Trustee sub-committee which met eight times throughout the year and reported to the Trustees.

Despite the complexities facing the organisation with reductions in funding and increased demand, the organisation continues to take hard decisions to ensure that financial stability has been maintained in the year and a small surplus was generated to replenish reserves. Reduced resources have meant that staff have worked incredibly hard to generate the surplus. Some services are still being subsidised by general funds such as volunteering and the taxi service, where they are key to the organisation's mission. Trustees are carefully monitoring the position in these areas. Contracts with partners were secured for both the Hate Crime Advocacy Service and the Social Prescribing consortium. Opportunities to strengthen trading were boosted by a grant from Big Potential to support our capacity building and has enabled us to look at the growth of Personal Health Budgets and Direct Payments in neighbouring areas. As a result, a contract has been secured with Redcar and Cleveland Council to deliver Direct Payment Support as part of a framework agreement. A grant has also been obtained from the Fresh Ideas programme to fund capacity building for Personal Health budget support developments.

The 30th Anniversary fundraising appeal gained support from businesses, organisations and individuals. Darlington Building Society chose to support People's Parliament with a grant of £5,000 via County Durham Community Foundation and Parliament shared their expertise with the Society. As a result, a strong relationship has developed and Parliament now hold their meetings in the Society's Board Room.

The TSB bank adopted the organisation as their local Charity of The Year, Blackett's surgery held book sales, Darlington Lions Club chose DASH children's services to support throughout the year and customers at ASDA voted DAD as their chosen charity. Supporters have donated items for sale, ran fundraising stalls, been sponsored to run in the Great North Run, donated in lieu of Christmas cards and much more. The appeal successfully raised almost £5,000, including funds from the Lions Club raised for DASH. We appreciate all of the donations made throughout the year.

The incoming resources for the year amounted to £1,025,494 of which £82,985 was for restricted projects and £942,509 was attributable to general funds before expenditure.

Reserves policy

The Trustees established a policy whereby the unrestricted funds not committed or invested in tangible fixed assets ('the free reserves') held by the charity should be between 3 and 6 months of the resources expended in general funds. This is the level assessed by Trustees that would enable the organisation to manage risks associated with a sudden loss of funding and in this year, that has proved a very prudent approach. The level of free reserves at the year end is £185,333.

Contracts were in place with both Darlington and Middlesbrough Councils to support people with Direct Payments and a new contract was signed with Redcar and Cleveland Council. Advocacy was also delivered for Hartlepool Council as part of a framework agreement. Other contracts with Darlington Borough Council during the period were received for Advocacy, Short breaks for Carers and the Independent Living Hub.

Contracts were also in place with Age UK for Social Prescribing, The National Children's Bureau for Independent Support and the Clinical Commissioning Group for Mental Health Advocacy. Grants were received from Tees Valley YMCA to deliver the Youth Investment Fund, Police Crime and Victims Commissioner, Skills for Care, County Durham Community Foundation for Health and Wellbeing activities and The Respite Association.

DAD wish to thank all funders and supporters of the organisation. In particular, the many people who give hours of their time, expertise, skills and knowledge to ensure that DAD continues to be a successful organisation. Volunteers work at all levels of the organisation. As a User Led Organisation, disabled people and carers volunteer as Trustees, work across all projects which DAD operates, get involved in co-production, consultation, impact assessments, web site development, management, mentoring, fundraising, one to one support and many more roles. Volunteers are the backbone of the organisation and our thanks and appreciation go to all of them.

Future Plans

DAD will continue to work hard to be at the centre of supporting disabled people and carers who will be impacted by the multiple cuts proposed to the Local Authority budgets which will affect everything from social care, to housing and transport. This is in addition to the swathing cuts to the welfare system and the previous closure of the Independent Living Fund at a national level.

Trustees, the Chief Executive and the Senior Management will work to secure a balanced budget for the forthcoming year whilst minimising the impact on staff and the support we can offer. We will be ensuring that wherever possible we promote the work of the organisation and what we can offer to ensure disabled people know where to go to for support. Our Business Plan review will focus on how we can extend the reach of the organisation to support disabled people and carers across a wider geographical area as our expertise is being valued in other areas. However, resources will also need to be available to implement the changes to General Data Protection Regulations to ensure DAD meets the new legislative requirements. Sadly difficult decisions will need to be made where projects, such as the taxi service, are not generating sufficient income to cover costs.

DAD will continue to raise the issues which affect disabled people and carers locally, regionally and nationally including Hate Crime, 'Better Health' proposals for changes to NHS services in the region, support for employment and training such as Access to Work and the implementation of the Care Act. Personal Health Budget developments in the region will be a particular focus thanks to a 'Fresh Ideas' grant to support organisations to look at new areas of work.

As we extend our reach into other locations we will be recruiting new Trustees to maintain a high level of governance and continue to strengthen the organisation by appointing a Deputy Chief Executive to support DAD’s development.

Partnership working with others in the voluntary sector and across public sector organisations is likely to have a larger impact on the organisation and create opportunities to influence and press for genuine co-production.

Continued support for the groups DAD facilitates such as Young Leaders, People's Parliament and Parent Forum, will be crucial to ensure people have a voice and opportunities for self-advocacy and co-production. Securing resources for them to continue will be a high priority.

DAD will continue to ensure that the organisation has a strong presence going forward, promoting the organisation as a Centre for Independent Living available to support all disabled people and carers.

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